After a few months in Cluj-Napoca, I have spent many afternoons in coffee shops with my laptop. While I thought that I had accumulated a vast array of useless knowledge, it occurs to me now that you and other digital nomads might like to know where the best places are to spend an afternoon working, should the inside of your flat not appeal.
You may already know that Romania has some crazy-fast internet speeds – it’s in the top 5 countries in the world in terms of Mbps. To give you an idea, in the UK you might pay £50 a month for 70Mbps, whereas in Romania I was paying £5 a month for 100Mbps, which was actually the slowest you could get. So even in your average café, Skyping and downloading large files wasn’t a problem. Cluj, in particular, is a huge hub for IT startups and is more or less crawling with techies and IT companies.
Despite the great Wi-Fi, one of the downsides in Romania’s café culture is that they seem to be fond of blasting music, which isn’t great when you want to concentrate on your work. So, whether you’re teaching over Skype like I do, writing, coding, or whatever else you might do remotely, I’ve saved you a few steps and listed some of the best places to get a bit of work done.
Koffer – hands-down my favourite working space. Plugs, quiet and non-distracting music,
a piano, friendly staff and plugs – plus the Wi-Fi is usually good (although it has failed a couple of times). They have some nice, exciting things like Aeropress coffee and matcha lattes, although the prices are a tad more on the expensive side. Great cake, too, and it’s also a bookshop. There are often events happening here, although I think they are largely conducted in Romanian or Hungarian.
Open 08:00-22:00 weekdays, 10:00-22:00 Saturday and closed Sundays. B-dul 21 Decembrie 1989, nr: 46/1
Flowers Tea House- I don’t know why I love this place so much. It might be the funky music that isn’t distracting. It might be the friendly staff, but then again you can say that about most places in Cluj. It might be the amazing marzipan coffee or the cappuccinos that are much cheaper than their neighbouring counterparts (around 5.5 lei), or the generous dollop of fresh, real cream that they put in your coffee. Or it might be the lovely flowers painted on all the walls. The music is a little on the loud side, making it less ideal for calls – but for sitting around and typing, it’s pretty good. There are plugs in at least one of the rooms, too. For some reason, its Facebook page makes it look like a cocktail bar, but during the day it’s a nice, quiet spot.
Open 08:00-23:00 weekdays, 10:00-23:00 weekends. Strada Emil Isaac 9
Papillon – right next door to Flowers, so much that you can use its Wi-Fi if Papillon’s isn’t working! Another nice café, with the added bonus of having a nice outside terrace (where the Wi-Fi still works) and sandwiches. The downside is that it’s a little more expensive than Flowers. You should try their lemonades, though: Romania seems to have amazing lemonades in nearly every restaurant, pub or café, and they come in a variety of flavours (strawberry and basil was one I tried here). It definitely beats the UK’s normal soft drink offering of Coke or Sprite. Anyway, pretty sure I saw some plugs here, too.
Open 08:00-23:00 every day. Strada Emil Isaac 9.
Yolka – This place feels like a secret, because you’d never know it was there. You need to walk through a corridor that seems to lead you to My Way bar (I think it’s called that, it may have changed to something involving hats) until you find a staircase on your right. Go up the stairs and you’ll suddenly be in this cool café overlooking the main square, with greenery on the walls and trees hanging from the ceiling. The coffee is really good, there are plugs, and the Wi-Fi is good. It’s also not that noisy and there’s some good lighting in there!
Open 14:00-00:00 every day, Monday 15:00-00. Piața Unirii 21
Bulgakov – This is a wonderful place for cheap Romanian or Hungarian food, cocktails,
and coffee. During the summer months there’s a terrace or a semi-outdoor area, and if the weather is bad they have a selection of indoor rooms. Although the Wi-Fi isn’t always perfect I’ve found it quite a relaxing place to work, and the fact that you can eat there doesn’t hurt, either… the picture here shows some of their lovely soups (the mushroom one comes with blue cheese on toast!). There are plugs inside, too, if the inside part is open (not always an option on hot summer days).
Open 11:30-01:00 Sun-Wed, 11:30-02:00 Thu-Fri, 11:30-05:00 Sat. Strada Inocențiu Micu Klein, nr. 17
Of course, Cluj has a lot of other lovely spaces to work from, too. I found this website – workfromcluj – with some more suggestions. Let me know where you like to go!